Dubbed the Paris of the Sahara by Winston Churchill, La Mamounia is perhaps the nicest resort in Africa and ranks among the top hotels globally. Past visitors include Charles De Gaulle, Elton John, Charlie Chaplin, Paul McCartney, and of course the late British Prime Minister just to name a few. The hotel was originally built in 1923 and even was the setting for the film The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alfred Hitchcock. Recently it has been renovated and now is one of the most beautiful and intricately decorated buildings in all of Morocco. Think back to the latest Instagram post you saw on Morocco. Chances are the photo was taken at La Mamounia.

If you’re like 99% of the population and cannot afford their cheapest rooms for $500 a night, the you probably will just have to see the photos on Instagram, right? Wrong. It is possible to visit the hotel for free if you’re dressed nicely and know how to play the part.

All you have to do to gain access to the hotel is walk up to the front entrance and mention that you’d like to come in for a coffee, lunch, drinks or even a little shopping. The guards will happily let you in but only before coat-checking any large bags you may be carrying. I came with three other friends and once inside the hotel, we freely roamed around trying to find that perfect Instagram location.

I visited on a Monday so the hotel was very quiet, but all the staff were friendly and let us do our thing. In the end, we didn’t even bother getting that coffee, but their restaurant menus looked incredible.

Unfortunately we couldn’t visit the pool as we were not guests, but for those looking to spend a little more, the hotel sells day passes entitling guests to use the pool and recreational facilities for $60. And they actually have a good deal if you live in Marrakech or are on an extended stay. A season pass to the hotel facilities is only $150 annually. The pass also comes with a free massage and meal at one of the restaurants. Additionally visitors can purchase spa treatments that would include access to the hotel facilities.

The grounds of this hotel were like stepping into a Moroccan palace. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and I hope to one day come back – perhaps with enough money to afford to stay one night.